British West Indies and Bermuda

Trevor Burnard

in The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199227990
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 British West Indies and Bermuda

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This article reviews scholarship on the history and historiography of slavery in the British West Indies and Bermuda. The British West Indies differed from other places colonized by the British in the Americas in the rapidity by which slavery became central to the workings of society. In this process, Barbadosstands stood out both for the qualitative leap taken by entrepreneurial Barbadian sugar planters in integrating the factors of production — Barbadian land, African slaves, and London Capital — into an impressively efficient operation under a single owner and for the influence of Barbados's slave society on English and non-English colonies. In Bermuda, the charter generation of Africans, possibly from West-Central Africa, arrived early (by 1620, the island had around 100 African slaves) and lasted for several generations. Bermuda tried — and for a time succeeded — in establishing an economy based on tobacco, but this tiny archipelago, one-eighth the size of Barbados, never made the transition to a mature plantation society. Without a plantation generation to overwhelm them, however, Bermudian slaves were quintessential Atlantic creoles, often attaining a measure of independence denied to slaves elsewhere in a fluid society where slavery closely resembled indentured servitude.

Keywords: British colonies; slavery; slaves; Barbados; sugar plantations; slave society; plantation society; Atlantic creoles

Article.  8996 words. 

Subjects: History ; Colonialism and Imperialism ; Slavery and Abolition of Slavery

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